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Rulings Related to the Performance of Ghusl

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

A brief clarification on a few essential components of ghusl.

Achieving the Requirements of Ghusl and the Ruling of Taking Water Inside of the Mouth and Nose

According to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab, the validity of ghusl1 is achieved by encompassing the entire body with water at least once. They do not specify washing the inside of the mouth or nose. This is because there is a difference of opinion regarding its obligation. From among the people of knowledge are those who say: ghusl is not valid without it, just like wuḍūʾ. It has also been said: it is correct without it. The former opinion is correct because of the saying of the Most High:

وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا

“If you are in a state of Janābah (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body).”
(al-Māʾidah, 5:6)

This washing is encompassing of the entire body and is therefore inclusive of the insides of the nose and mouth. This is because both are considered parts of the body that must be purified. It is because of this that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ordered the cleaning of both when performing wuḍūʾ as they are delineated under the saying of the Most High:

إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ

“When you intend to offer al-ṣalāh (the prayer), wash your faces”
(al-Māʾidah, 5, 6)

So if the nose and mouth are included in the cleaning of the face and must be encompassed when performing wuḍūʾ, they must also be included when performing ghusl. This is because ghusl is an even more undeniable, deliberate, and encompassing form of cleaning [than wuḍūʾ].

Evidence that Ghusl is Achieved by Encompassing the Body with Water

The evidence to support the validity of ghusl being achieved by encompassing the entire body with water at least once is the saying of the Most High:

وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا

“If you are in a state of janābah (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body).”
(al-Māʾidah, 5:6)

Here, Allāh did not mention anything else in terms of requirements. Therefore, anyone who encompasses his entire body with water at least once would have successfully purified himself, as in the verse.

[Q]: If it was said: the verse is general. Its generality has been expounded and elaborated upon in light of the actions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Therefore, it should be obligatory to perform ghusl in exactly the way in which he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) performed it. Just as Allāh said:

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ

“And perform al-ṣalāh”
(al-Muzzammil, 73: 20)

Its performance is interpreted in light of the actions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Thus, it has become obligatory for us to only pray in the way he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prayed.

[A]: The answer to this is in two parts:

  1. If Allāh had wanted us to perform ghusl in a detailed, ordered fashion, he would have elaborated on it in the verse just as He has done for wuḍūʾ. In so long as He has left the order of ghusl in a general fashion, and elaborated the details of wuḍūʾ, we can interpret this to mean that it is not obligatory for ghusl to be performed in a very specific, ordered fashion, the way wuḍūʾ is performed.
  2. The ḥadīth of ʿImrān ibn Huṣayn in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to the man who was in a state of major impurity and hence unable to pray, “Take this [bucket of water], and empty it on yourself [i.e., your body].”2 The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not clarify to him exactly how to wash himself. If it was obligatory to only perform ghusl in the specific way that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) performed it, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would have clarified it to him at the time. This is because it is impermissible for the one delivering the message [i.e., any prophet] to delay the clarification of a matter of jurisprudence later than the time that clarification is required.

If someone was to answer us saying: It could have been that this man already knew how to perform ghusl.

I would answer this with two points:

  1. Ignorance should be assumed as the original state.
  2. It is apparent from the ḥadīth itself that he was ignorant. The evidence of this is that he did not know that tayammum may be performed in the place of ghusl when one does not have access to water.

In summary: Ghusl is valid provided one holds the intention to perform ghusl, then says ‘بسم الله’, then cleans the entire body with water at least once including the inside the mouth and nose.

For example, if a man in a state of major impurity intends to perform ghusl so he enters and leaves a pond of water. This ghusl is valid provided he also washes the inside of his mouth and nose.

If he then wants to perform wuḍūʾ, the mere entering and leaving of this pond is not a valid way of performing wudūʾ. Rather, he would have to exit the water in the order in which the limbs are to be cleaned for wuḍūʾ. This is because observing the specific order when performing wuḍūʾ is obligatory according to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab.

The Ruling on Continuity When Performing Ghusl

The apparent opinion of the Ḥanbalī madh`hab is that continuity is not a prerequisite when performing ghusl. Thus, if someone was to wash some of his body and then stop for a period of time considered by most as prolonged, then continue his ghusl, it would be considered valid. This is according to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab. It has also been said that continuity is a prerequisite. This is another narration from Imām Aḥmad or from his students.

The opinion that continuity is a prerequisite is more correct. This is because ghusl is one act of worship, so it is most befitting that its parts are built and reinforced by one another through performing them in a consecutive fashion. If it is performed in parts because of a valid excuse like water running out for example, after which more water is brought; it would not then be obligatory for one to clean what he had already washed. Rather, in this case he may continue by simply cleaning the rest of his body.

Endnotes:

[1] Ghusl: cleaning the entire body with water while holding the intention of seeking to gain closeness to Allāh. Ghusl is a legislated form of worship legislated by Allāh—the Exalted, the High—and obligated on every person in a state of major impurity including the menstruating women, the woman experiencing post-pregnancy bleeding [partrition] and others who fall under the same ruling. See Sharḥ Zād al-Mustiqniʿ by Shaykh Muḥammad Mukhtār al-Shanqītī 2:17.
[2] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 344 and Muslim: 682.

Source: al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1: 363-365
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: July 23, 2023
Edited: July 23, 2023

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